Say No to Plastic Bags
Hobsons Bay City Council is encouraging residents to say 'no' to plastic bags and start using other reusable options when shopping.
Australian individuals use almost 250 plastic bags per year for an average of five minutes. As a whole Australians use more than 10 million plastic bags a day. Australian throw away about 7,150 plastic bags a minute, with 429,000 plastic supermarket bags dumped in landfill every hour. It only takes four grocery trips for an average Australian family to accumulate 60 plastic shopping bags.
Almost half of the bags used are given away by non-supermarket retailers such as newsagents, discount stores, pharmacies, fruit and vegetable shops, liquor stores and take-away outlets.
Unfortunately most plastic bags end up as litter or buried in landfill taking up to 1,000 years to break down. Plastic bags that are not disposed of correctly can pollute and block local waterways and are responsible for deaths of thousands of birds, whales, seals and other marine life who often mistake plastic bags for food.
Following is information about environmental impacts of plastic bags, alternatives and reuse and recycling options.
Environmental impacts of plastic and plastic bags
- In the 2014-15 Keep Australia Beautiful National Litter Index (NLI), plastic objects (including plastic bags) ranked third in the top 12 littered items across Australia
- Over the entire 24 years of the annual Clean Up Australia Day event, plastics have remained the dominant item collected. In 2014, plastics made up 30 per cent of all rubbish collected by volunteers with plastic bags accounting for 25 per cent of plastic items
- Around seven billion tonnes of plastic litter enters the ocean every year
- It is estimated that over 13,000 pieces of plastic litter float on every square kilometre of the world’s oceans and this figure continues to grow
- Plastics make up about 60 per cent of marine debris, with an estimated 100,000 marine mammals and turtles killed by plastic litter every year around the world
- Being entangled and eating plastic are the primary types of direct damage to wildlife caused by marine plastic litter. Plastic can smother sea beds and it is a source of toxic substances in the marine environment
- Available information indicates at least 77 species of marine wildlife found in Australian waters and at least 267 marine species worldwide, are affected by entanglement in or ingestion of marine debris. This includes 86 per cent of all sea turtle species, 44 per cent of all seabird species and 43 per cent of all marine mammal species
Alternatives to plastic bags
- Reusable cloth bags are usually available from your local supermarket. There are also other alternatives available to buy online or through other retail outlets. Reusable baskets are also an option
- Cardboard boxes are also often available for free at most local supermarkets. These can be composted or recycled in your recycling bin
- Reusable airtight containers can be used to purchase meat, cheeses, olives and other deli-type items from some retailers
- Use sealable containers, boxes, cake tins, jars or a plate with a tea towel over it to transport food
- Use newspaper to line rubbish bins or wrap up rubbish in for transfer to the bin outside. You could also purchase compostable bags that are made from cornstarch and break down completely and a lot sooner than plastic. Another way is to use bread bags, cereal bags or other packaging that is less unavoidable and you might get through your shopping
Reusing and recycling unwanted plastic bags
- Accumulated plastic bags around the house can be reused as rubbish bin liners, fresh and frozen food storage or for picking up after pets
- Unwanted plastic bags can be returned to some supermarkets for recycling
- Plastic bags can now be recycled in Council’s yellow lidded Recycling bin.
- Recycled plastic bags are then made into new products such as decking and park benches